Gifted Glossary

This lexicon allows you to grasp the terminology that is essential to understand the world of neurodivergence. It will be expanded as my Gifted interviews are conducted.



Barnum effect:

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, it’s the phenomenon that occurs when individuals believe that personality descriptions apply specifically to them (more so than to other people), despite the fact that the description is actually filled with information that applies to everyone. The Barnum Effect works best for statements that are positive. It’s also referred to as the “subjective or personal validation” effect.


Cassandra Syndrome:

It is an expression taken from Greek mythology. Cassandra was given the gift of Prophecy and the curse of never being believed. Cassandra Syndrome is often linked to giftedness, in the sense that a Gifted person, because of his or her visionary side, warns, but is not believed or taken seriously.


Gifted and Talented:

Gifted refers to a person with an IQ of at least 125/130 (the average is between 90 and 110), which represents between 2 and 5% of the population. The calculation of the IQ can vary depending on the country, the method of analysis chosen (the test), age, etc. 

To go beyond the scientifical definition I like Lynne Azpeitia and Mary Rocamora’s approach:

“It’s well known among researchers of the gifted, talented, and creative that these individuals exhibit greater intensity and increased levels of emotional, imaginational, intellectual, sensual, and psychomotor excitability and that this is a normal pattern of development. It is because these gifted children and adults have a finely tuned psychological structure and an organized awareness that they experience all of life differently and more intensely than those around them”.


Homogeneous / heterogeneous IQ :

The IQ is homogeneous when the difference in scores between the indexes (see WAIS Test definition) does not exceed 12 points. There is a similarity or proximity in the results of the 4 IQ indexes (Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Reasoning, Working memory, and Processing speed).

The IQ is heterogeneous when the scores of one or more indexes differ by more than 12 points (for example between Perceptual Reasoning and Verbal Comprehension).

! When the IQ is heterogeneous, some psychologists do not wish to conclude whether or not there is giftedness. Hence the importance of the professional’s expertise on the subject, he compensates for one of the limits of the test through his analysis. !

Heterogeneous Wechsler-scale IQ profiles are as gifted as homogeneous Wechsler-scale IQ profiles.



= The International High IQ Society was founded in Oxford in 1946 for gifted and talented people. To qualify for Mensa, you have to either take a test administered by Mensa or submit a qualifying test score from another approved test. To quote Mensa International “The society welcomes people from every walk of life whose IQ is in the top 2% of the population”.

! You can “fail” at a Mensa test but be recognised as gifted by the WAIS IQ test. !


Metacognition is not just intentional thinking about how one thinks and learns, for the gifted/2e individual it is also about how one interacts with oneself, one’s family, and one’s greater community. Each sensory interaction is processed internally which, in turn, produces a response whether that be reading a book or having a heated conversation. For the gifted/2e individual, all stimuli can be intense, thus reactions tend to be vivid, strenuous, and even visceral. As such, metacognition takes on a whole new meaning. – Definition by Michael Postma

Multiple intelligences by Howard Gardner:

H. Gardner argues that the IQ test does not measure multiple intelligences. In Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, he presents 8 types of intelligences:

  • Logical-mathematical* (manipulating numbers and solving logical and abstract problems)

  • Verbal-linguistic* (understanding words and nuances of the meaning)

  • Visual-spatial* (establishing relationships between objects in space, creating a mental image)

  • Naturalistic (to appreciate, recognise and classify the world of living things: fauna, flora, mineral world, etc.).

The first 4 concern the IQ (intelligence quotient) and involve logic. The next 4 forms of intelligence concern the EQ (Emotional Quotient):

  • Intrapersonal (forming an accurate and faithful representation of oneself, using it effectively in life).

  • Interpersonal (understanding and communicating with others and anticipating behaviours)

  • Bodily-kinesthetic (fine control of body movements)

  • Musical-rhythmic (ability to perceive and create rhythms and melodies)

He later added existential and spiritual intelligence (questioning the meaning and origin of things).

*The IQ test only concerns these 2 to 3 forms of intelligence.


Overexcitabilities according to Kazimierz Dabrowski :

= term created by Kazimierz Dabrowski to describe the excessive response to stimuli in five psychic areas: psychomotor, intellectual, sensual, imaginational, and emotional, which may occur singly or in combination.

“It is often recognized that gifted and talented people are energetic, enthusiastic, intensely absorbed in their pursuits, endowed with a vivid imagination, sensuality, moral sensitivity, and emotional vulnerability. . . . [They are] experiencing in a higher key.” (Michael Piechowski).


Positive Disintegration, the theory of Kazimierz Dabrowski :

A key idea of K.Dabrowski is that depression or an existential crisis is not a sign of mental pathology, but a process allowing one to build one’s true, stable, and unique personality (conscious choice of one’s values and the life one wants to lead).

This is a positive disintegration leading to personality development.

It is often used today to explain the development of gifted people.

Profoundly gifted:

Profoundly Gifted or Very High IQ (VHIQ) have an IQ above 145 at the WAIS test, i.e. 3 standard deviations above the Average (Average = 100; Standard deviation = 15).

Beyond a number, Profoundly Gifted function differently from gifted people. 


Raven’s progressive matrices (RPM) :

Created in 1936 by John C. Raven, RPM is a nonverbal test for children and adults, based on visual geometric design. It is typically used to measure general human intelligence (fluid intelligence) and abstract reasoning. For example, it might be used in educational centers for children or in selection tests for specific professions.



It is the ability to mix two senses in the perception of the world (most mix 2 of the 5 senses). The best-known example is the poem by A. Rimbaud: A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels (see the numbers or letters in colour).


Tree Thinking / Divergent Thinking :

To describe the gifted way of thinking, we often speak of tree thinking (one stimulus = creation of an associative network of thoughts, in simultaneous processing). It is opposed to linear thinking (linear, sequential, step-by-step processing).

The scientific approach speaks of divergent vs. convergent thinking. Convergent thinking follows a linear and logical order to find a solution to a problem. Divergent thinking works by associating ideas: from a single starting point, many solutions or ideas emerge.

! Both thinking modes are used by the entire population, but Gifted people have more active divergent thinking (beyond that, Gifted have more active and compulsive reasoning). !

Twice-exceptional (2E):

= co-occurrence of giftedness + disability or special need:

  • ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) 

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

  • specific learning disabilities (SpLD), speech and language disorders, dys (-lexia, -calculia, -graphia…)

  • Psychological and mental health disorders

! The special needs can mask the giftedness!


WAIS Test:

= test designed to measure intelligence. Only a psychologist can administer this IQ test. WAIS-IV is the 4th edition published in 2008 and is currently in use. It measures fluid intelligence (the ability to solve new problems without the use of knowledge) on the performance scale and crystallised intelligence (which uses knowledge) on the verbal scale.

There are 4 index scores (with their subtests):

  • Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI): subtests: Similarities, Vocabulary, Information, using crystallised intelligence

  • Perceptual Reasoning Index (PRI) or visual-spatial intelligence: subtests: Block Design, Matrix Reasoning, Visual Puzzles

  • Working Memory Index (WMI): subtests: Digit Span, Arithmetic

  • Processing Speed Index (PSI): subtests: Symbol Search, Coding

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